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November 29, 2001
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Indian companies in fray for Iraqi power projects

Lola Nayar, in New Delhi

Several Indian companies are in the fray for modernising Iraq's power plants as Baghdad seeks New Delhi's help to augment its power generating capacity.

"While the tendering process will be completed by December 4, the supplies will continue," a senior Iraqi official, who is part of a delegation led by Iraqi Electricity Minister Sahban Faisal Mahjoob currently visiting India, told IANS.

Around 40 Indian companies are currently supplying equipment and services for various restructuring projects underway in Iraq. Baghdad is at present working on the tender process for the tenth phase.

Mahjoob is the third Iraqi minister to visit India in two years as part of diplomatic efforts to maintain goodwill and further bilateral trade relations.

"Two more Iraqi ministers -- of health and agriculture -- are expected to visit some time next year as part of the exchange of ministerial and high-level visits," said H S Mejie, chairman of the India-Iraq Joint Business Council.

Indian companies' share in projects approved by the United Nations Office of Iraq programme is approximately $1 billion -- around five per cent of the revamp projects and equipment supplies for sectors ranging from water, sewerage, electricity, oil fields and fertiliser plants.

During meetings in the course of Mahjoob's visit, leading Indian power equipment majors sought to get their payment and other issues addressed while expressing interest in participating in the next phase of tendering for power and other projects, expected to start early next year.

Of the restructuring projects currently under way in Iraq, India has a sizeable share with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd having bagged two major contracts for supply of four gas turbine generating units worth $200 million to General Company Electrical Projects for Beiji power plant, 250 km north of Baghdad.

"We are hopeful the first two units will be delivered and commissioned by summer of 2002," the Iraqi official said.

During a meeting with India's Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Manohar Joshi and Power Minister Suresh Prabhu, Mahjoob proposed collaboration with India for development of heavy industries and power generation equipment.

Iraq is looking to India to double its power generation capacity through restructuring of plants damaged in the 1991 Gulf War and build new units.

The Iraqi delegation's eight-day visit till December 4 is packed with meetings with electric and electronic companies specialising in power and telecommunications equipment.

Mahjoob will be visiting the BHEL plants at Bangalore, Hyderabad and Trichy and also state-owned Computer Maintenance Corporation in Hyderabad to study their operations.

Iraq is also looking at doubling its trade with Indian companies in electrical goods from the existing $350 million in the next two years, Mahjoob told the Indian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association during a meeting here.

During the last three years, Iraq has imported electrical equipment worth about $750 million, of which Indian companies have supplied $350 million worth of products, according to the IEEMA.

Indo-Asian News Service

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